Friday, November 21, 2014

Seeking a Church Family

The church is the great lost and found department. ~Robert Short

Choosing a church home for us has never really been about choosing a convenient place to worship God or based on the activities that would be beneficial to us. For us, it is choosing a family. We have been members at five churches since we moved to this area yet, I feel that we have not really had a church family since we moved from our our Florida church seventeen years ago. We were led by God to certain churches for varying reasons and seasons, but as soon as we left, whether quietly or with good-byes, only two of the members of those former churches ever contacted us just to say something simple like "I miss you" (and one of them left to join the church we did a few months later). Perhaps we just did not make that much of an impact on their lives....

In truth, that may have been part of the problem, but the other part is that they did not make a real effort be an impact on ours either. In fact, most of them resisted or were just too busy when asked to join us for a meal. We made very good friends at a church we had gone to for four years and they followed us to the last one we went as I mentioned previously. That family will most likely stay there as it is rather convenient for them being just a few minutes from their house, which is not close to anything, and they like the church. However, I always felt that we found that church and stayed there for a time to settle them into it, because it was God's will for them at this time to be there, but I never really felt it was the place that we were meant to be for very long. I really hoped I was wrong about that temporary part, because I like sitting with them and talking with them before and after the service and I was very concerned about how our friendship would be affected. But, here we are...again, looking for a church, a family.

This time, however, we do have certain things we need from the church. Our daughter needs to be involved with the praise and worship team and play piano or even another instrument with the band. She needs this experience to develop the skill of playing with other instruments and backing up singers. She also needs a youth group that will challenger her to grow spiritually and be her sisters and brothers. She has very good parents who do this, I believe, but she needs to have support coming from other directions as well at this point in her life. This time we are specifically looking in these areas of the church to see if it has the potential to meet these needs for her as we both feel strongly led to do.

As for my husband and I, we would like a family. People who actually do impact our lives. People we would miss if they were no longer around and people who would miss us if we were no longer around. People who really share and care, not "the only when we are at church" dump then jump. People who challenge us to grow spiritually inwardly yet actually do things to help others outside of the church. I do not expect perfection; if the church was perfect, it would have no room for us. I would like a place where some of the people that inspired me to want to be a better Christian and that I would do the same for some them.

The church we left is one that I would still like to visit now and then. We did visit it a few weeks ago. I like the positive message, but honestly even that day it was the same message we have heard for a year and a half, just the angle changes: freedom from bondage, be the church outside the church, use your gifts. Great message, but it is basically the same thing every Sunday and it was great for the first six months because we needed it so much, I suppose, but now it just seems stagnant. It is as if outside world has no impact on the church and, sadly, visa versa. My husband who has Israeli friends was so sensitive to the fact that the pastor did not lead us in prayer for Israel's protection as missiles rained on it not that long ago.

We visited one of the churches recommended by the siding guy--that sounds weirder than it was, but if you read my previous post you get it. Anyway, it is about as far as the last one in a different direction. It is smallish but has just gone to two services each Sunday. We got there earlier than we meant to, but that gave us plenty of time to meet people. First impression, this church has hospitality. We were met with a wonderful aroma the moment we walked into the front door. The decor was exquisite. Orange walls with chartreuse and black accents; thoughtfully simple yet obvious and friendly, as if it this place was loved. The sanctuary was unfinished with a cement floor and all the inwards of a metal building showing, but even there I saw touches of love. Off to the side of the sanctuary was a large room filled with--are you ready for this?--coffee, hot water for tea, hot cider, iced tea, cold lemonade, all kinds of donuts and even a few bangles with cream cheese available. Now this kind of stuff is not necessary, of course, but I was thankful because we left in a rush and I had not had breakfast...and I felt that someone cared enough about me, and all the people who would be coming that day, to provide this hospitality. Yes, I felt at home...and loved.

After talking with a few people, I lost track of my daughter, but I heard her playing one of her recital pieces on the keyboard, a showy piece that requires her to play with one hand over the other several times. She told me that after they dropped their jaws, the man who asked her to play turned to the other man and said he was fired. One man who plays the bass guitar is in a band and sometimes cannot be there. On those Sundays, the keyboardist plays the bass guitar and they have no one on the keyboard--yes, they would love to have my daughter join the group.

Next Sunday is the men's meeting before service at a BBQ restaurant. The wives often eat breakfast so that they do not have to use two vehicles to get to church. We are planning on it but then it would make a very long time at the church; after the second service, they are having a newcomers lunch where they discuss the doctrine of the church, which I would expect leans or is completely Baptist even though it is not in the name. They are a planted church sponsored by a huge Baptist church not that far away. The pastor has a doctorate in theology, which is probably part of the reason his sermons are framed in the traditional way, but certainly more in depth Biblical teaching than we have had at the previous church. The music is contemporary and not as much the top popular songs as our last church, but also more worshipful and respectful--not as much staging and hyping up. The membership, we were told, is around 150, but we did not stay for the second service to see for ourselves. The youth group is in a rebuilding stage as they had quite a few graduates this year, so that can be good or bad depending on how it goes for the Princess.

Will this be our new church family? I have pretty good feelings so far.

~ My Lord, please let us see clearly the path You already prepared for us in finding our new church home. ~